Today, thanks to the development of modern technology, printers are in almost all homes. However, such devices must be properly selected. A detailed comparison of sublimation printer vs inkjet we describe in this article.
The sublimation printer vs inkjet: difference
Even though there are a large number of different models of printers on the market, everyone is interested in comparing sublimation printers vs inkjets. The difference between them is that sublimation options transfer ink to paper or substrate under the influence of heat. Inkjet is characterized by the continuous stream of ink drops on paper.
Thanks to sublimation, a continuous image is formed that does not fade or lose pigmentation when in contact with water.
However, often the shades are not saturated enough; therefore they are used for graphic printing.
Inkjet printers are best used if you want to achieve high-quality prints. However, they are less reliable because they are less flexible. Inkjet models are optimal for wall art as the prints are more attractive.
If you need to print small pictures, pay attention to sublimation printers. They are more reliable than other print media.
How sublimation printing works
Dye sublimation printing refers to the process by which an image is transferred to a product. In this case, special ink and devices are used that allow you to work with fabrics, bags, or utensils.
The essence of dye sublimation is that solids are rapidly converted to gas. The ink heats up to 200 °C (392 °F), so it quickly transfers to various surfaces. Previously, images on paper were transferred to the product and warmed up before gluing.
Today, with the availability of dye sublimation printing, the process is much faster. Initially, the ink is loaded to the sublimation printer, and the pattern is loaded along with the product. After the ink is heated, it turns into a gas.
After they are pressed against the product and associated with its fibers. Further, the image becomes solid when in contact with the surface of the object. In this case, there are no various seams or edges.
Given that special ink is required for work, classic printers cannot be used. Otherwise, sufficient heating is not occurring. Ink can damage and contaminate the mechanisms that are contained in a conventional printer.
It is for this reason that it is recommended to use sublimation printers, which provide consistent and complete transfer of the pattern. The advantage of such devices is that the image is imprinted into the material. Thanks to this, the drawings are clear and colorful.
Sublimation printing: for what materials
Sublimation printing can be used if you need to apply a pattern to the surface of any product:
- clothes (t-shirts, socks, and jumpers);
- crockery (cups and plates);
- accessories (folders, bags, mouse pads, etc.).
Best of all, drawings are applied to products made of polyester. If you plan to work with ceramics or glass, first you need to cover the surface with polyester.
After a sticker or drawing is applied, the polyester fibers melt when the ink is well heated.
The use of other materials, including cotton, is allowed. However, be prepared for the fact that the drawing is not stored for a long time. Exposing the fabric to high temperatures, deforms, so the image may fade and peel off.
Dye sublimation printer applications
The printer is designed to perform a variety of tasks. You can print company logos on T-shirts, and make personalized gifts.
Pros and cons of sublimation printing
Many people are wondering, is it worth getting a sublimation printer? To begin with, you should study in detail the advantages.
Benefits of dye sublimation printing
The main advantages of sublimation printing are:
- The compactness of the printer. Devices do not take up much space on the table or in the closet.
- Ease of application. Portable devices have a simple and intuitive interface that is a pleasure to work with.
- Continuous shade. There are no ink dots. Therefore, the pattern is smooth, without stripes.
- Fade-resistant. Some manufacturers convince customers that drawings can last for decades.
- No drying time is required. Drawings dry immediately, so they are not smeared. This significantly reduces the time to work.
It is important to note that sublimation printing can be used to work even with non-traditional things. As already mentioned, it is ideal for working with dishes and textiles. However, drawings printed on photographic paper look best.
Cons of dye sublimation printing
Quite a large percentage of people are wondering, what are the disadvantages of sublimation printing? More about the cons of sublimation printing you can find later.
Shades of sublimation printing
Restriction to light shades and plastic. The technology of sublimation printing is not suitable for products that are made from natural fibers. To apply a pattern to them, you first need to process them with polymers. Also, drawings look more advantageous on light products.
Tools for sublimation printing
The work with sublimation printing requires special printers and ink. The ink does not convert to liquid, so there is a risk of clogging printers.
That is why a special printer is required to work with sublimation printing.
It should work well with special sublimation inks. The cost of equipment is quite high. That is why sublimation printing is only in specialized companies.
Slow pace when working with sublimation printing
Also, noteworthy is the slow pace of work. This is because all elements are clicked individually. Considering that an additional step of processing the carbon paper is required, more time and work are required.
The use of cheap materials provokes the formation of toxic fumes. Before placing an order for sublimation printing, check with the company how high-quality materials it uses. If the ink is cheap, it gives off toxic fumes. This not only harms the environment but also humans.
If, in addition, a product made of low-quality plastic is used, the situation becomes more complicated. Toxic vapors inhaled by a person can provoke irritation of the mucous membrane, as well as problems with internal organs.
Read also: Сan you sublimate on glass?
An equally important disadvantage of heat transfer sublimation printing is recycling. Sublimation printing generates a lot of waste. Unfortunately, they cannot be recycled.
After all, an additional step is required that increases the number of materials compared to other processes.
First, the ink is applied to carbon paper, which then becomes dirty and cannot be recycled. In addition, plastic, which is impregnated with multicolored dyes, is also not recyclable.
Pros and cons of inkjet printing
Almost all photographers have inkjet printers at home. These devices are distinguished by their excellent picture quality and allow you to work with a large number of photo paper options. However, it is important to understand that such printing also has pluses and minuses.
When it comes to choosing a printer, there are many questions.
Can I use an inkjet printer for sublimation printing?
To heat transfer sublimation printing, an inkjet printer is required. However, given the fact that the ink only gets hot when heated, a device with printheads is required. They do not tolerate heat to apply ink.
Can I use a printer for sublimation and regular printing?
Sublimation ink should not be used for normal printing. After all, the internal mechanisms of the printer are damaged, because of which it may fail.
You may also be interested: Can you use sublimation ink for regular printing?
As you can see, there are significant differences between sublimation printing and inkjet printing. Sublimation printing is appropriate if you want to apply a pattern to fabric or dishes. Inkjet printing is stable only for making photographs.
Read also: What is the best shirt for sublimation?
Hi, I’m artist and sublimation printing expert. Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, I had passion for photography and painting from my childhood. I started my career as a sublimation print operator for a local printing company in 2012. The role exposed gave me lots of practical knowledge about printing process, from managing color profiles to ensuring print quality on various materials.